“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” Lewis Carroll
About three years ago I was visiting Lockett, Louisiana, and met a fellow by the name of Ed Landry. He was the Sheriff there, an upstanding man and all-around good guy. Our friendship got off to a rocky start. Nobody ever heard of Lockett, it didn’t show up on any maps.
It wasn’t long before my family and friends began to question Ed’s existence too. It wasn’t that they didn’t like Ed. They just couldn’t see him—nobody could. Shades of Elwood P. Dowd, people began to look with askance on my sanity.
Ed and I talked it over and decided it was not just a phase I was going through. Besides, we had a rougarou to deal with before we could worry about what people thought.
Today Ed and I started the third book of his paranormal adventures. Nobody is laughing anymore. Ed still hasn’t cracked the New York Times bestseller list, but he has become visible to a good many people. He says it was all my doing. It’s strange because I say the same thing about him.
Ed and I have never been seen together in public and someone once asked me if we weren’t really one and the same guy. I wish—and therein may be what makes us friends. Ed is a little bit me, but he’s a whole lot of what I admire in men of principle. Ed’s a hero only because he is continually being forced into the role. People rely on him to step up and he doesn’t like to let them down. So, you see, we really are clearly not the same guy.
Readers will love (or hate) your characters only after they take on a life all their own. To do this, the writer must initiate a dialog. As in any relationship, you learn more by listening than speaking. If your character won’t speak to you, he’s not going to take center stage.
At times, I find I am more a scribe than an author. I’m just trying to set down what the characters are saying as they write the story. It doesn’t hurt to be just a little crazy if you want to write fiction—or at least have talented imaginary friends. By the way, have you met my new friend, Christopher Mann?